The incredible demand for cloud financials and ERP software shows no sign of easing. We haven’t seen such a rush to implement ERP, and specifically cloud ERP, since the Y2K countdown. As more and more companies embark on financial management system upgrade projects, a critical shortage of accountants and finance executives (we call them ‘Super Users’) who are capable of successfully implementing and then getting the most out of Sage Intacct (and other mid-market ERPs) is painfully evident.
Faced with a critical talent shortage, what options do you have for finding key people to help ensure a successful ERP implementation? One good option might just be to grow your own! So, here are five steps to creating an ERP Super User:
1. Define the Role
First, just what is a super user? Often, we think of the super user as simply the one in the organization who knows the software best, but there’s much more to the role. Super users understand how new financial management software capabilities can be applied to not only solve problems, but also exploit opportunities at the macro and micro levels. Depending on your company size and complexity, you may want multiple super users — subject matter experts (SMEs) by functional area, for example.
Ideally, a super user has (and wants) a seat at the table during the business partner and software selection processes, and throughout the implementation. Their natural curiosity, ability to learn new technology, and keen understanding of your business operations make them an invaluable contributor.
Super users understand how the ERP software has been — or will be — implemented and can provide quick responses to user requests about business processes, system navigation & functionality, and resolve those “how to” and “I can’t get it to work” issues. Super users may also be involved in staff training, using a train-the-trainer approach. They are the ones ready to question the “old way” of doing things and discover how the software can streamline workflows. They also typically serve as the liaison between your company and your business software partner.
2. Identify the Right Candidate
Many companies err by not putting their best and brightest in this role. Don’t simply ask for volunteers for this task and take the only one that raises their hand. This job requires specialized skills along with a personality and attitude that just not everyone has.
The best super users are technically savvy, naturally curious and have the ability and desire to take their training to the next level. Although they don’t necessarily need to have an accounting background — it’s helpful if they do. You’re looking for an individual that is genuinely motivated to making the project a success, by first learning the software thoroughly and then helping others learn. Since not many people have spare time in their schedule, you need to make sure to adjust their schedule & responsibilities to allow them the time to continue their education within user groups & conferences, stay on top of new product releases, and consider additional ways the company can leverage the software.
Confidence is an admirable trait in a super user, but a know-it-all can be dangerous. The best super users will know what they don’t know and are willing to bring their business solution partner into the mix to help strategize. In summary, here are some traits to look for:
- Naturally curious
- Technically savvy
- Time in their schedule (or you can create that time)
- Real desire for project success
- Lifelong learner
- A teacher at heart
3. Devote the Resources
Nurturing a super user takes time and resources, yet many ERP vendors rush the process because of pressures on the project timeline or budget. We’ve encountered a number of frustrated companies whose implementation had faltered (or failed) because the super user concept was used by the ERP vendor mostly as a way to lower the project’s implementation costs, by placing the entire training burden on a designated super user.
While the train-the-trainer approach can lower an organization’s upfront training costs — it’s shortsighted to make this the primary reason. Make sure to give your super user the time needed to study, learn, apply, and expand their new knowledge. No one can become “super” at something they’re only doing after hours, during lunch breaks, or when rushed & stressed about other tasks.
4. Focus on Business Processes, not System Transactions.
In our practice, we often see users coming from an entry-level application like QuickBooks who bring along that “old way of doing things worked just fine” attitude. With its checklist-driven processes, QuickBooks doesn’t ask its users to think outside the box. On the other hand, a modern ERP or financial management application invites — and rewards — out-of-the-box ingenuity.
Super users will be the individuals on your team that are always looking for a better mousetrap. They’re the ones always thinking of additional ways your can leverage the financial management or ERP application to not simply complete tasks — but create value-driven workflows that drive down costs.
Cloud financial management and ERP publishers are good at creating documentation and training that teaches people how to complete transactions in the software. They’re not always as good at demonstrating how you can reimagine transaction checklists into streamlined business processes that fit the way you do business. The publisher’s idea of a super user could be simply the one who knows how to get tasks done within the software.
A Cloud ERP publisher’s definition of a super user may not be yours. It’s the publisher’s job to know the software inside and out, but they cannot be expected to have the same understanding of your business. That dual understanding — the software and your business — is the core value of a ERP implementation partner.
5. Maximize the Investment
A super user will develop collaborative relationships with your business partner, to continually maximize the value the ERP application can deliver. You want them to be looking forward and sideways – to spot ways the software can both meet future goals and how it can be expanded to more areas of your operation.
Cloud ERP solutions like Sage Intacct are regularly updated with new features and functionality, and the super user must have the drive to learn them, and consider how those features and functionality could be used to help improve workflows.
Super users also remain aware of changes in your company’s business environment that may affect the Cloud ERP application, such as opening a new location or acquiring a new business entity. They will also work closely with users and managers to spot trends, identify additional training needs, or suggest configuration or procedural changes that could improve how the software supports your business.
Harvest the Benefits
Growing your own super user is a great way to build your organization’s bench strength. A properly motivated, trained, and empowered super user will become an invaluable internal resource, leveraging their power to improve the long-term value of your Sage Intacct investment.
We’d love to answer your super user questions and help you understand how we can help your organization harvest the benefits of Sage Intacct. Call us at (847) 205-5015.